Prefixes are key morphemes in English vocabulary that begin words. The prefix super- and its variant sur- mean “over.”
We all know that the DC Comics hero Superman is the hero who stands “over” all other men in power. He is the superstar in the DC Comics line of heroes, or the star that stands “over” other heroic stars, such as Batman and Wonder Woman. Speaking of superstars, the football game that stands “over” all other football games is, you got it, the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl features the superior teams from the AFC and the NFC divisions facing off against each other, that is, the two teams that stood “over” all the rest during the football season.
School systems love to have members of management who stand “over” all others, such as superintendents, who are in charge of entire school systems. They supervise, or watch “over” the schools in their respective districts.
A variant of the prefix super-, which also means “above,” is the morpheme sur-. For instance, a surname is that name which is “over” a family and thereby identifies it, or the family’s last name. The surface of something is etymologically the face that lies “over” what it’s covering. When you surpass everyone else’s SAT scores at your school, you pass “over” them all, thus getting the highest score. One who takes a survey of people wants to look “over” what they think. And have you ever been hit with a surcharge on your cell phone bill, those sneaky little charges that go “over” what you are supposed to pay? Sometimes you’d like to hit those kinds of charges “over” the head!
Now that you have been surrounded with superlative examples of words which contain the prefixes super- and sur-, you will never again have to look those words “over” twice before knowing what they mean. That’s just supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
- Superman: man ‘over’ all others
- superstar: star ‘over’ all other sports or music stars
- Super Bowl: football game ‘over’ all others
- superintendent: administrator ‘over’ an entire school system
- supervisor: one who watches ‘over’ others
- surname: name ‘over’ all in a family
- surface: layer lying ‘over’ something
- surpass: to pass ‘over’ others
- survey: look ‘over’ something
- surcharge: charge which is ‘over’ and ‘above’ a stated fee
- surround: a wave ‘over’ something that engulfs it
- superlative: of carrying ‘over’ and ‘above’